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The effects of glucose ingestion and glucose regulation on memory performance in older adults with mild cognitive impairment



Previous research investigating the impact of glucose ingestion and/or improvements in glucose regulation has found selective cognitive facilitation on episodic memory tasks in successful ageing and dementia. The present study aimed to extend this research to mild cognitive impairment (MCI).


In a repeated-measures design, 24 older adults with and 24 older adults without MCI performed a battery of memory and attention tasks after 25 g of glucose or a sweetness matched placebo. In addition, to assess the impact of individual differences in glucose regulation, blood glucose measurements were taken throughout the testing session.


Consistent with previous research, cognitive facilitation was observed for episodic memory tasks only in both successful ageing and MCI. Older adults with MCI had a similar glucose regulatory response as controls but their fasting levels were elevated. Notably, higher levels of blood glucose were associated with impaired memory performance in both the glucose and placebo conditions. Importantly, both blood glucose and memory performance indices were significant predictors of MCI status.


The utility of glucose supplementation and the use of glucose regulation as a biological marker are discussed in relation to these data.

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We thank the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust for supporting this study. We also thank Hazel McMurtrie for help with data collection.

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Correspondence to L M Riby.

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Contributors: All authors have contributed to the design, planning and analyses of data. LMR and JS were responsible for the day-to-day running of the non-MCI testing and AM, RB and JH for the MCI data collection. All authors contributed significantly to the final version of the paper.

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Riby, L., Marriott, A., Bullock, R. et al. The effects of glucose ingestion and glucose regulation on memory performance in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Eur J Clin Nutr 63, 566–571 (2009).

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  • glucose
  • glucose regulation
  • episodic memory
  • cognitive performance
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • ageing

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